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FALL 2016

Aesthetic Theory

November 19 - December 17

Saturdays (5pm - 8pm)




November 20 - December 18

Sundays (6pm - 9pm)

Course convener: A. M. Awad​

"It is self-evident that nothing about art is self-evident anymore," begins Adorno's Aesthetic Theory, "not its inner world, not its relation to the world, not even its right to exist." And yet, despite this declaration, art seems evident everywhere we look. It hangs in galleries, curated by experts. It's disciplined in the classroom and practiced in the studio. It's on the streets of Amman, sponsored by foundations or sanctioned by the state. In popular culture, art avails itself to everyone for personal use, sometimes even liberation.


What, then, does Adorno mean?

In this seminar, we will diagnose the life of art though the lens of Aesthetic Theory. Beginning with Kant and Hegel, we will ask: What is the purpose of art? Is it ideological, metaphysical, sensual? Can we know? In turn, we will engage the critical interventions of the 20th century, in which the fate of art swings from interrogating modernity as a whole to being commodified by consumer culture. What is art in relation to freedom and suffering, to market society?


Each week, we will juxtapose history with the present moment, reflecting on artistic production in the Levant and internationally. Do certain works evade Adorno's critique, opening new avenues of practice? We will also grapple with the limitations of our theoretical framework, figuring the contingency of its origin. How might the Arab context - whose inheritance has not been evenly modernised - allow for an alternative to modern aesthetics?


Course material includes theoretical texts (Nietzsche, Adorno, and Ranciere, in addition to Kant and Hegel), as well as a variety of aesthetic phenomenon.


Tuition: 240 JDs. Scholarships available

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